The Allegory of the Cave, a book review

A book review written by: Lee Sonogan

(514a-520a) Philosophy


One of the oldest books made and that has survived. Allegory of the Cave is a dialogue between Plato’s brother Glaucon and his mentor Socrates. Other known as Plato’s cave, it was presented in his work Republic. The discussion involves many philosophy ideals and subjects. Both use dialectic to communicate the effect of education and lack of it on our nature. I like how far deep they go into the conversation using dialectic communication to develop their ideas as they go.

The Allegory of the Cave is a thought experiment. Plato has Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them, and give names to these shadows. The shadows are the prisoners’ reality.

The philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not reality at all, for he can see the true form of reality rather than the manufactured reality that is the shadows seen by the prisoners. This thought experiment has symbolism that can represent ignorance and a freed prisoner can be society who sees the physical world for the illusion that it is.

Glaucon and Socrates agree that being in that situation is worse than being a slave in their time. The thought experiment also demonstrates the connection between truth and education. As the perspective of truth changes, so will our education. The book suggests we should seek truths even though it is very hard to do sometimes.

Plato is considered an important figure in the history of Western philosophy. The Allegory of the Cave describes the definition of Idealism. Wikipedia describes idealism as a group of philosophies which shows reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed or otherwise immaterial.

Hardcore philosophy ideals for the sake of politics and the people working together. I had to read back in a lot of parts. Even though it is a smaller book then expected to read. In the end I was very impressed. Apparently Socrates never wrote anything down so this conversation could have actually happened a long time ago. This conversation is relevent towards ideas in current times. I recommend this book to fans of philosophy and the greek philosopher, Socrates. Also to people who are interested in the concept of The Allegory of the Cave.


PS – I need more philosophy books to reach a greater understanding of everything!!

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